Web Development, WordPress Developer and Custom eCommerce Dev

Mailbox or Email Forward?

June 9, 2021

When adding email addresses for your website, you have two choices: a mailbox or a forward. What are the pros and cons of each, and which option should you choose?

First off, we always recommend that you use email addresses that match your website's domain name, for example: john@nm-design.com. This is more professional than say nmd@gmail.com and people will trust it more as it matches your website. This is a small but important detail.

As part of our standard webhosting services, we can create up to 5 emails at your domain for you. We can also add additional email addresses at any time. Whenever we add an email address for you, we start by asking: "Do you want a regular mailbox or an email forward?" So what's the difference and what would be best for you?

Regular Mailbox

A regular mailbox stores incoming email on a mail server. Typically, you'll configure an email app such as Outlook or Apple Mail to read and manage your email. You can also access your mailbox via a browser (ie, webmail). A regular mailbox allows you to send email from the same address at which you receive it. Your emails are also stored on the mail server until you delete it, which you'll need to do so your mailbox doesn't get full – you can always download your emails to your computer before they are deleted from the mail server.

The pros of a mailbox include:

  • Separate Account: Every mailbox has its own username and password and will appear in its own Inbox. This allows you to manage and organize multiple mailboxes and keep emails that go to different addresses separate (ie, business versus personal email).
  • Outgoing Email: Regular mailboxes can also send email in addition to receiving, and from the same address. By default, email forwards send from the destination email (more details below).

The cons of a mailbox include:

  • More Setup: If you use an email app like Outlook or Mail, you'll need to configure your account with all your settings, including the server, username and password. You'll need to do this for all your devices on which you wish to receive email. 
  • Another Account: Every mailbox requires credentials to access, which you'll need to keep track of. Multiple mailboxes mean more management and more technical knowledge to setup.

Our helpful recommendations for a regular mailbox include using IMAP (not POP) as IMAP automatically syncs your email across all devices. Also note that services like Gmail allow you to add external emails. This gives you the option to have all your emails coming into one central location.

Email Forward

An email forward passes along all emails sent to the original address (ie, john@nm-design.com) to one or more email addresses (ie, nmd@gmail.com). No email server is used so no copies are stored. 

The pros of a forward include:

  • No Setup: You don't need to add an email account to your mail app. You will simply start receiving email at whichever forwarding address you wish to use. There's no need to enter or keep track of usernames, passwords, etc.
  • Flexibility: You can change the forwarding address at any time. For example, sales@nm-design.com can forward to up to 10 emails which can be updated at any time. The sales@nm-design.com address stays the same, but the receiving emails can change as needed.

The cons of a forward include:

  • No Outgoing Email: Sending replies from emails that have been forwarded use the From email address of the receiving account. For example, if someone emails sales@nm-design.com which forwards to nmd@gmail.com, when replying, the From address will be nmd@gmail.com. This may confuse the person who sent an email to sales@nm-design.com but then receives a reply from nmd@gmail.com. Services like Gmail allow you to configure this so the From email is the same as the original email. This requires about 5-10 minutes to configure and we have a PDF guide that shows you how to do it.
  • Less Segregation: Emails that are forwarded will be mixed with emails that are sent directly. For example, whether the original email was sales@nm-design.com or nmd@gmail.com, they will all appear in the same inbox. While services like Gmail can help you filter and organize your inbox based on the incoming email addresses, by default forwarded emails will be mixed with all other mail for the destination account. This might require extra effort to organize.

Our helpful recommendations for a forward include using it to send to multiple people: this is a great way to send an email to a group of people in a department. For example, sales@nm-design.com could forward to up to 10 email addresses, all of which are easily changed at any time.

While we've listed the top issues to consider, there may be other factors for you to think about based on your specific needs. The good news is, it's fairly easy to change from one type of email address to another. So our general recommendation if you're not sure which to choose is to start with an Email Forward knowing you can always switch to a Mailbox.

As always, we are here to help guide you and make recommendations based on your unique workflow. Choosing between a regular mailbox or an email forward should also reflect how you like to work with and manage email, and ultimately, what will make things easiest for you.

If you have questions or need help, feel free to Contact Us.

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